Thursday, December 1, 2016

The holidays are here - time for a game!

With all the hustle and bustle, here are some fun ways to enjoy the company of friends and family.

Yes, as an author, there's nothing I'd like more than to see people reading books at any time of year. On the other hand, the holiday season is a great opportunity to sit down with those in your life and enjoy the simple, social pleasure of a quick game. So, on that note, let's take a look at three games. Not only are they great to play, they also make very reasonable gifts, with a great entertainment to cost ratio.

If it's books you're looking for, I've written reviews for quite a few titles, and, well, I've published a few books of my own. You can see my reviews and titles on my Goodreads page.

On to the game reviews....

The Car Wars Card Game is a vastly simplified version of the classic board game dating back to the 1980's. The card game version was originally available in the late 1980's and is now back in print with new graphics, new battle cards, and a few new rules. Don't worry - the entire rule sheet can be read and learned in about fifteen minutes. 

The idea of the game is simple enough. Players select their cars, draw a hand of battle cards, and throw down on each other. The rules allow for different ways to score a winner, but last driver standing always seems the best way to go. Depending on the number of players a round of combat can take anywhere between ten minutes and an hour. Dynamic cards also allow for other players to intervene in exchanges of gunfire, so that no one feels left out.

Holiday shopping creates its fair share of road rage. With the Car Wars Card Game, you can vent that rage in a fun (and non-criminal) way with your fellow vehicle arena combatants. The game is available at Amazon for $25.

    With Settlers of Catan, players embark on an adventure of trading and building to colonize the fictional land of Catan. This innovative, award-winning game features a modular playing map, so that every game is conducted on a unique landscape. This one brilliant feature translates to the reality that the game never gets old; indeed, every game is its own experience.

The game mechanics are quite simple, with only a few pages of rules, an excellent print tutorial to walk new players through the rules, and even a quick setup guide to get a first-time game rolling in a hurry. Game play ensues as players roll dice to generate commodities, trade commodity cards to build roads and settlements for increased commodities, and take efforts to both help and hinder each other as the situation demands. There is no combat. Even so, trading sessions can be cut-throat as commodity pressure increases and the map fills with construction. The winner is decided by a point system based on what players build on the map.

A typical game with four players runs about ninety minutes; a three player game is possible, but the four player trade dynamic ads greater competitive dimension. Given the simplicity of the game system it's suitable for younger players (but not children) so that it can make for a great family game night.

Settlers of Catan is available at Amazon for $35. There are numerous expansions and add-ons, although my feeling is to avoid the add-ons to preserve the original simplicity of the game. There is an extra player expansion which stretches the map and allows for 5-6 players - highly recommended so that more can play.

  Last, but certainly not least, is the infamous Cards Against Humanity. If you're not familiar with this game, be on notice that this is R-rated fun, so put the kids (and your sensitivities) to bed.

This game is essentially a no-holds barred, politically incorrect, rude and crude version of the popular Apples to Apples card game. Though the two are not connected in any way, the rules are basically the same, wherein one player draws a prompt card and then selects a reply card from those offered by other players. As the game's name suggests, nothing is sacred, and if it seems that a bunch of drunken college dorm residents put this game together, well, that's probably not far from the truth. If you have an open sense of humor, this game can provide a night of hilarious entertainment. You might even look at people a little differently when you see the kinds of cards they play or choose for replies.

As with most successful games there are numerous versions and add-ons, yet the original version has never failed to entertain. 

Cards Against Humanity is available at Amazon for $25.

So there you go...great ways to enjoy this time of year, and potentially great gifts. I for one am a fan of anything that gets people away from electronics and compels direct social interaction. No matter which of these three games you choose to play, there will be a fun night for all involved.

And when you're done, then you can read a book...just saying.

Happy Holidays!

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